Back in May of last year (2020), Google announced that its search ranking algorithm would start to take user experience (UX) into account from this year (2021). This was an unusual move by them, as they very rarely give warnings about what is to come – and so it is something that we as a website design agency Manchester took into account.
We have been concerned with user experience for some time, after all, it has indirectly affected page ranking for a while. If people have a bad experience when they try to view your website, then it is likely they will leave quickly and go over to another website where the experience is better for them. This can have a negative effect on your ranking. What this update means, is that once the update has been completed, Google will use page experience as a direct ranking factor.
So, what do you need to know?
What is the goal of Google’s Page Experience update?
Google themself have said that the goal of the page experience update is to improve overall web browsing experience for users – whether they are browsing on a mobile or a desktop.
The core algorithm updates that Google has focused on over the past few years have given us some indication as to what was coming, with the development of measures for mobile friendliness, https-security, and safety when browsing. Most recently, they released their Core Web Vitals measurement which allows them to more closely monitor a website functionality and speed.
The release of the new Page Experience metrics allows Google to take their efforts to improve UX for all, one step further as after the update UX will be a direct ranking factor. This means, pages that users enjoy browsing will be pushed higher up the results pages than those that they don’t,
Core Web Vitals and Page Experience will be combined
In the new Page Experience update, the core web vitals signals will combine with the current signals for page experience, to create a new broader ‘page experience’ ranking signal.
The development of this new signal is a significant change for Google, as although they do currently measure page experience it only affects ranking in a roundabout way. After the update, Google will measure page experience directly using Core Web Vitals and other UX factors, and this will then determine your page experience score – so it’s important for website design Manchester that we get it right.
Having a positive page experience score will improve your rankings, while a negative score could cause your page ranking to drop.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core web vitals are the performance metrics that Google will use to measure how user-friendly a web page is. There are three that we know of at the moment, but Google may well update these as time rolls on.
Core Web Vital One: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP measures how quickly the content on your website loads, with Google saying that the ideal time should be 2.5 seconds or less.
Core Web Vital Two: First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures interactivity on your page, with Google saying that a good page should have an FID measurement of less than 100 milliseconds.
Core Web Vital Three: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is concerned with the stability of the layout of your website through the measurement of whether objects or text on the page are likely to suddenly shift if a person interacts with them. If they do, this can be a significant issue for UX.
What else is Google looking at with the Page Experience Update?
There are four other factors that Google will look at alongside the Core Web Vitals measured above and these are:
- How well your website performs on mobile devices
- How safe your page is for the user – does it contain any malware or deceptive content?
- Does your page use a secure https encryption to keep the user safe?
- Does your page contain any advertisements of pop-ups that may make reading the other content difficult for the user?
How are we preparing for the Google Page Experience Update?
Using the information above, there are already steps that we are taking to help prevent any fallings in rankings one the update goes live, and these include:
- Using Google’s developers’ tools to assess your site to check how it is performing against the user experience signals
- Using any insights, we gain from these tools to suggest improvements to your pages to improve the UX
Having said all of this, as potentially impactful as the Core Web Vitals update may be, quality content should still be the priority over everything. In fact, as part of the Core Web Vitals announcement, Google themselves stated that they would continue to prioritise those sites that offered the best information – regardless of whether their page experience was worse than those sites with lower quality content.
If you want to make sure your website is ready for the Core Web Vitals update, please contact the team at SEO MCR – website design agency Manchester – for a chat.